After eight months without a managing director, Aunt Bessie’s has appointed Paul Heritage to the role.

Heritage replaces Paul Sanderson, who left last December after four years with the frozen food company. A spokeswoman blamed the delay on the “enormous number of applicants, who had to complete a very thorough internal testing process”.

Since 2006, Heritage has worked as an independent brand consultant for several major food brands. He is a former director of new business development worldwide at Mars Food and was vice president of commercial operations for iconic jeans brand Levi Strauss.

Heritage will be tasked with sustaining the positive sales momentum that has given the brand a retail sales value of more than £170m [IRI]. While sales in the frozen category have grown 6% year-on-year [TNS], sales of Aunt Bessie’s products including Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and mashed potato are up 9%. 

“It’s an exciting time to be joining the resurgent frozen food industry,” said Heritage. “Aunt Bessie’s is a strong player in the marketplace, with plans in place to grow market share across the existing range as well as in new product areas.”

Heritage said the brand would look to “raise its status” as consumers increasingly turn to frozen food in a slowing economy.

“The resurgence in frozen food enables Aunt Bessie’s to maximize its capabilities in this sector while also developing new product ranges across frozen, ambient and chilled,” he said.

Penetration of Aunt Bessie’s frozen mashed potato rose by 215% when Delia Smith’s How to Cheat at Cooking television series championed the product in March. Sainsbury’s said sales climbed 61% year-on-year the week the product aired on the TV programme. 

Aunt Bessie’s changed its name from Tryton Foods earlier this year.